AFTER 40 years breeding and running Poll Herefords, Mount Difficult stud principal Ted Cole says working cattle was somewhat different to his day job.
A Melbourne psychiatrist, he took up the Stawell property after a neighbour suggested he get into primary production.
"It was a very nice contrast," Dr Cole said.
He used to commute to the farm every fortnight, learning to fly to make the trip easier.
"Many of my friends had farms too, of one sort or another," Dr Cole said.
"My first thought was to run sheep, but the neighbour said they were too much trouble, so I went for cattle.
"He said he liked Herefords, I did a little more research and found you could get them without horns, so I started as a commercial member of the society."
The Mount Difficult stud was founded in 1985.
"I was trying to breed a better animal, and perhaps compete with others, in the process," Dr Cole said.
"It has worked successfully, as far as the figures are concerned – I have always been an advocate of performance testing and the commercial herd was recognised, before Breedplan came in."
At 84, he said it was time to disperse the stud, but not before selling bulls to South Australia, NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria.
Semen had gone to New Zealand and Canada.
"Anyone who cares to look at our figures will realise they are the equal of any Hereford, or Poll Hereford stud, in Australia, but unfortunately, not enough people believe it."
When he was 18 months-old, he said his parents bought a beach shack at Balnarring.
"A large part of my childhood was spent there, fishing, setting rabbit traps, shooting, so I had some attachment to other people's land."
Dr Cole said he was concerned at the current status of the Poll Hereford, which was in danger of being relegated to a "minor breed, something of historical significance".
The breed had been "outstripped" in terms of performance testing and promotion by the Angus breed, he said.
"I can remember when Poll Herefords were the prominent breed, the show guide was an inch thick, with classes so large, they had to be divided up by the judge, before he could hope to assess them," Dr Cole said.
"I think we can claw our way back, but only if people take the figures seriously," he said.
"There are still people around who believe you only have to cast an eye on an animal and know all about it and how it's going to breed.
"You can find out a lot about it, by looking at it, but you can't find out everything, including the most important things."